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Former KBI agent has neighborhood watch tips
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A key ring and wasp spray are among common household items that can be used to deter crime, according to Randy Smith, instructor and coordinator of the Criminal Justice program at Barton Community College. Smith, who is also a former Kansas Bureau of Investigation agent, recently shared tips with the Citizens Watchdog Association and also spoke to the Great Bend Noon Kiwanis.

Smith suggests keeping car keys next to the bedside at night. If you hear an intruder, hit the panic button so the car horn will start honking and draw attention. Instead of pepper spray as a home defensive weapon, he suggests a can of wasp spray. Using pepper spray requires allowing an assailant to get close, but wasp spray can shoot across a room. "It temporarily blinds an attacker until they get to the hospital for an antidote."

Brock McPherson from the Citizens Watchdog Association said Smith also had his Criminal Justice students review a wave of burglaries that occurred in his neighborhood and resulted in the formation of the neighborhood watch group. The items most stolen were tools and appliances, followed by electronics, and most burglaries occurred after 7 p.m. However, Smith warned that as the days get longer, "we’ll start seeing more burglaries while people are at work." Smith warned residents not to leave windows open when they leave the house.

"The average burglar is in your house four minutes," he said.

"I thought he had some good ideas," McPherson said. Here are a few more:

• Don’t let newspapers pile up in the driveway when you’re away from home. Stop the paper or have a neighbor pick them up.

• Burglars do check sock drawers, the bedside table and the medicine cabinet.

• A loud TV or radio can be a good deterrent.

• Avoid announcing your vacation on your Facebook page.

The Citizens Watchdog Association meets at 7 p.m. on the third Thursday or each month at the Rosewood Gallery, 1607 Main. The next meeting will be April 21 and the guest speaker will be Barton County District Judge Mike Keeley, who will talk about sentencing guidelines.